Saturday night’s rain made for a beautiful, cloudless Sunday Funday at AFWF. First up on my schedule was a hands-on Grilling 101 with Chef Tim Love. Love, the unofficial mayor of the Fest, is known to bring infectious energy — and ample libations — to each session. In other words, it’s impossible not to have a good time.
For what AFWF has dubbed the world’s largest grilling party, Love guided a couple hundred aspiring grillmasters through the basics of grill conquering, including which equipment to use, what meat to buy and how long to cook it for in order to produce the perfect steak.
Meanwhile, Chef Love ensured guests were relaxed by encouraging white wine breaks throughout the session. His easy to follow demo meant that even those of us who are less than skilled when it comes to grilling (no names mentioned) were able to turn out a chef-worthy steak in no time at all.
After wrapping up at Grilling 101, I had just enough time to make a quick trip through the HEB Grand Tasting Pavilion before heading off to the next demo. I took a breather from wine and instead made my way over to the Chef Showcase to sample what San Antonio’s Feast restaurant had to offer. For his ‘Squid Pro Quo’dish, Chef Stefan Bowers served marinated squid with fava beans in a chili pine nut anchovy sauce. As an added bonus, it was finished with a nutty Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. A simple dish with bright, clean flavors, this was one of my best bites of the Festival.
Next up was Lotta Lobster with Chef Jonathan Waxman. Known for his fresh approach to classic cooking, Chef Waxman led a demo that put everyone’s favorite crustacean, lobster, front and center.
Of course, as anyone who has cooked live lobster can attest, it’s not all fun and games when it comes to saying sayonara to your new friend. As such, the tent released a collective squeal when Chef Waxman pushed a knife through his first lobster after freezing it for six minutes. In no time at all, heavenly aromas of herbs and spices soon filled the tent and quelled the audience as Waxman created several dishes, including a Tarragon Lobster Roll.
Following Chef Waxman’s demo, it was time for one final round through the Grand Tasting Pavilion before saying goodbye to the 2013 Austin FOOD & WINE Festival 2013. First up was a stop by the Chef Showcase featuring Chef Shawn Cirkiel. For his showcase, Cirkiel highlighted the food from his Southern Italian restaurant, Olive & June. His duo of dishes included a housemade lamb pastrami and fresh pea soup, served cold.
On the other side of the pavilion, TRACE pastry chef Janina O’Leary pulled out yet another winning surprise from her dessert arsenal at the Chef Showcase. True to form, her grapefruit budino with grapefruit meringue kisses was playful, and full of bright citrus flavors and surprising textures.
After a few final sips and bites, I left Butler Park already anticipating next year. In just a few short days, attendees like myself had the opportunity to pick up new kitchen tricks, taste some unexpectedly delicious bitesanddrink fabulous wine. While I didn’t hit up as many of the wine sessions as I would have liked (instead opting for chef demos) having too many amazing options from which to choose is never a bad problem to have. Until next year…
For more looks back at the Fest, check out Ginny’s dispatches from Day 1 plus our 2013 Highlights, and remember to follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as we bring you food news, updates and behind the scenes looks at Austin’s culinary culture all year long!